Why ‘everyone’ is not your customer

Person selecting target audience representing customerIf you try to appeal to everyone when you launch your website, you’ll probably end up speaking to no one.

This is because you’ll cast your net too wide and fail to appeal to different (and often contradictory) interests or desires. The result is that you won’t convert your visitors, and therefore won’t generate revenue. Here’s how you should think about your website, and what you can do to appeal to the right audience:

Why do site owners go wrong when deciding who to target?

Site owners tend to perceive the internet as a universal resource, that can therefore appeal to a universal audience.

People with this mind-set too often go on to fill their site with generic features, content and design, as they are afraid of turning away customers and subsequently losing revenue. This, however, is the wrong approach, because gearing your site towards the customers you really want does not need to mean alienating others who are willing to pay for your services.

Imagine you’re organising a party that you want to (A) fill with guests (your site visitors), and (B) appeal to your best friends Steve and Julia (your target customers). Invitations are sent to everyone in groups A and B, but because you know that Steve loves mohitos and Julia loves Chinese food, you announce it as a mohito party with dim sum. There will be plenty of people from group A who think the party sounds fun and will turn up anyway, yet it will especially make Steve and Julia want to come. It’s a win-win.

Take Apple, for example. They want to appeal to young, fashionable tech savvy customers, and this is reflected in all of their branding. But, their site is so appealing that they capture their key customer demographic, as well as everyone outside of it who aspires to or empathises with their target market.

How do you target the right customer?

Targeting the right customers should start long before you set up your site. Comprehensive market research should tell you who to target, and you can then produce a series of customer personas to help guide your site design.

If you get this right, you can implicitly appeal to your target audience (the people who typically want to buy and can afford your product) through a combination of language and imagery.

There’s a whole range of techniques you can deploy, and these are some of the most widely used:

  • Design: Choose a design template/method that aligns with other sites your audience may visit. If they love Pinterest, make your site a patchwork of images.
  • Colour palette: Select a small palette of complimentary colours that best represents your target audience (e.g. earthy tones for natural products).
  • Image/text ratio: Decide how much of your product/service you want to represent through visuals and images, and how much you want to explain through text.
  • Content: Make sure any text matches with the preferred tone and language style of your key demographic.
  • Navigational aids: Create visual cues that guide your visitors around your site (e.g. use the same colour for the ‘add to basket’ and ‘access your basket’ links).

Once you’ve got your targeting sorted, make sure to stick to one theme to enhance your branding, build trust and stop the site from looking cluttered.

The risk of trying to tailor your website to ‘everyone’ isn’t that you might miss out on a small portion of your audience, it’s that you might miss out on having any audience at all. Remember: watered-down messaging appeals to no-one, but targeted messaging appeals to customers you really want.

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